Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge will emcee the National Child Abuse Prevention Month news conference and public forum next week to help raise awareness of abuse in Madison County.
The forum will be held at 10 a.m. on April 1 at the Madison County Administration Building, located at 157 N. Main St. in Edwardsville. As in the past, the Third Judicial Circuit Court Family Violence Prevention Program is collaborating with Prevent Child Abuse Illinois for the event.
"The circuit court has been involved with abuse prevention for many years," Mudge said. "The Family Violence Prevention Program was founded in 2002, when I was a state attorney in the county."
"Abuse has long been a silent problem," he added. "Many people don't realize that one in 25 kids is involved in some form of abuse every year. That's like one child in every classroom."
If the cycle is not stopped, abused children often grow into abusive adults, he explained.
"An abused child is 75 times more likely to commit abuse as an adult," he said. "Statistics show they also are much more likely to commit other types of crime and become involved in substance abuse."
Mudge said there has been an increase in the number of reported abuse cases, which may indicate growing awareness in the problem.
"There used to be a stigma that made it difficult for children to come forward, because they felt that they had done something wrong," Mudge said. "The increase in cases shows that awareness is growing. The legal system also is doing a better job. In the past, children had to repeat their story a number of times, which was painful and also caused inconsistencies in their testimonies. Now we use video, so we only have to interview them once."
Joining Mudge at the event will be Madison County regional superintendent of schools Robert Daiber, Ph.D.; coroner Steve Nonn;; Madison County state’s attorney Tom Gibbons; child protection supervisor for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Gary Crone; and Madison County board chairman Alan Dunstan.
This year's theme is "Child Abuse Prevention: Everyone Has a Role to Play!"
"We encourage people to talk with their children about safety and trust their sense of what may be happening in a given situation," Mudge said. "Everyone can donate time or money, and get involved in a child's life to discover if anything like this is going on."
For more information about Prevent Child Abuse Illinois and Child Abuse Prevention Month, please visit www.preventchildabuseillinois.org